Career fairs can be great ways to learn about new job opportunities and make connections with your dream employers.
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But what if something happens and you can't attend that big career fair coming up? Don't despair! There are a few things you can do that may help you find the job you desire:
1. Review the List of Companies in Attendance
The first thing to do is get a list of all of the companies attending the career fair. This will help you identify any potential employers you might be interested in learning more about.
2. Visit Company Websites and View Job Openings
Do your values align with the company values? Are you a good fit?
After you have narrowed your choices down to companies you are interested in, you'll need to find out a little more about them by going to each organization's website. Read up on the company news and history, explore the culture, and check to see if the company has any job openings that you'd be a good fit for. You may want to try setting up an informational interview with someone at the company in order to learn more – and to make up for missing the career fair.
3. Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
Did you find your dream job in the list of openings on one of these companies' websites? If so, it's time to go over your resume carefully. Check for misspellings, update your work experience to reflect your most recent jobs and achievements, and customize your resume so that it is most aligned with the specific job for which you are applying. Doing so makes yours stand out from the generic resumes of other candidates.
Repeat the same process with your cover letter, and be sure to tailor each document for each position to which you apply! No two resumes should be the same!
4. Apply Online for the Positions You Want
Now that you've identified roles you want and have tailored your cover letter/resume to match, it's time to apply online for those roles.
Take your time. Don't rush the application. Be sure to fill out each question carefully. If you don't get the application right, it could end up being deleted or filtered out without being read.
Make note of where you applied, and be sure to follow up in a week or two if you haven't heard back by then.
5. Follow Companies on LinkedIn
If you don't have an account on LinkedIn, you are missing out on a lot of career and networking opportunities. LinkedIn is the business equivalent of Facebook; many employers post job openings on the site and/or use it to vet potential employees. Following companies you'd like to work for on LinkedIn is a good way to get on their radar.
You may also want to see if you can connect with the hiring manager on LinkedIn or another company rep who is relevant to the position you applied to. Send a message to them in which you sell yourself in more detail and ask questions about the role and company. Be professional in your communications!
Just because you can't attend a job or career fair, that doesn't mean you're doomed to remain jobless. One of my clients followed this strategy – and when the job fair ended up being cancelled, he was the one the hiring managers remembered. No one else took the time to design a plan!
Jaynine Howard is a military veteran whose work as a career strategist and reinvention specialist has been recognized by professional organizations throughout the nation.